published Tuesday, May 21st, 2013

Cleveland, Tenn., software developer is Webby winner

David Tucker, left, and Joe Johnston record their acceptance speech for the People’s Voice Webby.
David Tucker, left, and Joe Johnston record their acceptance speech for the People’s Voice Webby.
Photo by Contributed Photo /Chattanooga Times Free Press.
ABOUT UNIVERSAL MIND

Universal Mind is a digital solutions agency that specializes in creating apps that allow for a multiscreen customer experience. The company is headquartered in Colorado and has locations in Europe, San Francisco and Michigan.

Source: universalmind.com

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A Cleveland, Tenn., software developer is in New York City today to claim one of the most respected awards in the Internet and web-development world — a Webby Award.

As the director of research and development at Universal Mind, a national digital consulting firm, developer David Tucker spearheaded the company's effort to create the iPad Table. It's a table top made of 15 iPads -- and they function as one device.

"They're talking to one another over a normal WiFi network," Tucker said in a telephone interview Monday. "But the difference is that they know about one another. They know not only that the other devices are there, but they know where those devices are positioned in space. So we can create a single surface out of separate devices, and you can pass information from one to another."

Imagine a group of co-workers sitting down at a conference table for a meeting. Each employee has an iPad. With this platform, those employees can instantly share data just by flicking a finger in the right direction and sliding a virtual photo, report or blueprint across the table. And when the meeting ends, each employee can take that information back to his desk.

"People think it's magic, when we toss an image from one iPad to another," said Joe Johnston, director of user experience at Universal mind. "It's something that people are intrigued by and and want to play with it. It's collaborative and creative."

The idea earned Universal Mind a People's Choice Webby in the Experimental & Innovation category. Johnston and Tucker were one of 11,000 nominees in more than 100 award categories. In each category, there's a Webby winner chosen by judges and a people's choice winner chosen by public vote.

Tucker and Johnston are in the same boat as technology giants such as Google, Skype and Pinterest -- all previous winners. Tucker, who works remotely with Universal Mind and moved back to Cleveland about five years ago to raise his family in the same city where he grew up, said winning the people's vote was validating.

"There was a lot of buzz around it, and we knew we created something that was really unique," he said. "One of the things we belong very strongly in is that in the future there will be a lot of device-to-device interaction."

The technology itself isn't new, Tucker explained, but the application is. And while Tucker and Johnston can't yet discuss pending projects, the software behind the iPad table has the potential to dramatically change the way shoppers shop, teachers teach and travelers travel, Tucker said.

"Teachers could have a lot of information on one device and then throw individual pieces of content onto different students' iPads," he said.

Or they could create an interactive, digital display on a wall -- and take it apart two hours later.

Universal Mind will accept the award at a star-studded ceremony hosted by comedian Patton Oswalt and including stars Ben Stiller, Kevin Spacey and Jerry Seinfeld. The program will be available to watch at watchwebbyawards.com starting at 9 a.m. Wednesday.

about Shelly Bradbury...

Shelly Bradbury joined the Times Free Press as a business reporter in January 2013, after starting with the paper as a general assignment intern in July 2012. She is from Houghton, New York, and graduated from Huntington University in Huntington, Indiana, with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and minor in management. Before moving to Tennessee, Shelly previously interned with The Goshen News, The Sandusky Register and The Mint Hill Times. Outside the newsroom, Shelly enjoys ...

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